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Canadian Election Update: 4.29.11

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It is finally safe to make at least one prediction irt the May 2 Canadian federal election. There will not be a majority Conservative government when the new Parliament is sworn in.

I typed the preceding paragraph a few hours ago and then went out to tcb. During my travels I learned via twitter that Ipsos Reid had released a new poll and Ekos had released a new seat projection, both of which, if they are accurate, reopen the question of whether or not the Tories get to 155 seats.

Also, as I began typing again, a “news” story about Jack Layton not being arrested 15 years ago was broken by Sun Media – yes the usual suspect for Rovian sleaze in Canada. I will return to that topic later.

The polls have shown a continuing trend upward for the NDP since the debates in mid April. Much of their new found strength comes from unheard of levels of support in Quebec, and there has now developed a consensus that the Bloc Quebecois is ceding much of their territory to the New Democrats. At the same time the Liberals have been trending precipitously downward and now appear to be in a battle for mere party status in the new Parliament. In the last week or so the Conservatives have also experienced a softening of support. For the sake of comparison, here are some of the more recent polls.

Of course while it may look like the Conservatives got a little uptick with the Ipsos Reid poll of April 28, one should compare it with the same firms previous poll released on April 20, which gave the Tories 43% versus 24% for the NDP and 21% for the Liberals. In any case, if the latest Ipsos Reid is predictive, the Conservatives are close to majority territory. If they get something more like 34or 35 % it is less likely.

I have discussed seat projections previously and noted that in 2008, Ekos’ projections was the most accurate. Ekos released a porjection today (not their final one before the election) and described it this way:

In an interesting development, as the Conservative Party’s overall margin over the NDP has shrunk to a mere five points, the newfound parity of the NDP and Liberal Party in Ontario appears to have produced significant benefits in terms of seat returns. So while the Conservatives have lost ground to the NDP and have remained flat in Ontario, the new tie between Liberals and NDP in Ontario is causing vote splitting that has elevated the Conservative Party’s prospects. While they have remained under 40 points in Ontario, they would now be ticketed to receive the lion’s share of Ontario seats with less than two-fifths of its votes. With 61 of Ontario’s 106 seats, the Conservatives are now projected to win 146 seats. This means that they would basically reproduce their current number of MPs although their caucus would be a dramatically different Ontario-based government. The vote splitting also would reduce the joint total of NDP and Liberal seats (109 and 42, respectively) to 151, which is shy of the 155 needed to have a majority.
At these numbers, the prospects of deposing the CPC would be much lower. In fact, with 146 seats, the Conservatives may well be in the range of a secure minority and even though they are down significantly from their position in the polls last election, they are only 9 seats shy of majority. In one final piece of irony, the Liberal collapse may mean that a diminished Conservative performance may yield their elusive majority. The final weekend, particularly in Ontario, will determine what happens but it is conceivable that the Conservatives could back into a majority with just slightly more than one-third of the overall votes. It is hard to imagine what impact this would have on the Canadian public’s view of its first past the post system.

But, and it’s a big but, the various polls disagree about what is happening in Ontario. Here’s Frank Graves of Ekos Research:

On the one hand: “Mr. Nanos points out that the Tories are still comfortably ahead in Ontario — 41.1% support compared to the NDP at 26.1% — but their support has been slipping.” On the other hand, Harris-Decima finds that: “The key battleground of Ontario remains a rare bright spot for the Liberals. Michael Ignatieff’s party led there, supported by 34 per cent of respondents compared with 33 per cent for the Tories and 25 for the NDP.”

So, as in so many Canadian elections, what happens in Ontario will likely determine which party or parties (in the case of a coalition) form the next government and how strong their mandate is. We can expect however that the NDP will greatly increase their seat count, that the Conservatives will probably win a plurality of seats and the Liberals and Bloc will have some rebuilding to do if they are to continue to exist.

The Toronto Sun and Sun TV had a big scoop tonight. It seems Jack Layton was found in a massage parlor the Toronto police were investigating as a suspected bawdy house (quaint Canadian term for house of prostitution) – in 1996. He was not arrested. The story in the Sun does not actually say if anyone else in the “bawdy house” was arrested or not. The source is apparently a former Toronto vice squad policeman and expresses hostility toward Layton in the article.

Judging from the Twitterverse and comments to the Sun story itself, it seems that Harper supporters are enjoying the spectacle and most everyone else is disgusted with the smear. Otherwise I am in no position to say if there will be any effect on the election at all. I do suspect (because I was born at night but not last night) that Layton’s political enemies waited until this moment to smear him in an attempt to derail a pretty successful campaign. Whether the Liberals or Conservatives or both are behind it, I cannot say.

I will say that it could be an attempt to depress turnout, which would feed into the Conservative strategy. It could, however, backfire and propel the NDP to even dizzier heights. Whether it changes votes or not, most Canadians will resent this n=further attempt to introduce sleazy U.S., Republican tactics into Canadian politics.

Written by slothropia

April 29th, 2011 at 9:21 pm

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